I’m glad my doctor’s secretary is so kind

July 23, 2008 at 5:46 pm | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 1 Comment
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Just went to the doctors to pick up a letter the doc said he’d write so that I could send it to the train company in the hopes they’ll refund the tickets for a trip to Wales I had planned, but had to cancel because of the state of my knee. ‘Pick it up early next week’ he said. So I thought well, I’ll leave it until Wednesday to make sure it’s done.

Went in this evening – explained to the receptionist. She looked in the file. ‘I’m sorry, it’s not here.’

‘He did say I should pick it up early in the week.’

‘Well it’s only Wednesday now love.’

‘Well to my mind early in the week means Monday or Tuesday, and I left it until today just to make sure it was done.’

‘Well it depends how you look at it really, doesn’t it love? Early in the week could mean Wednesday too.’

‘No, not really. I’d call that midweek.’

‘Oh well, nothing I can do I’m afraid – it’s not here.’

‘Well could you at least check my notes to see if he’s made a note to do it?’

‘Well … I don’t know if …’ Sees the steam coming out of my ears, ‘Well, I’ll have a look … Oh, well it says here it was done yesterday. Thing is the secretaries have all gone home now and perhaps they haven’t typed it yet. The only thing I can suggest is that you call and ask for Dr Dashes secretary, Debbie, tomorrow, and she’ll be able to tell you exactly what’s happened to it.’

So off I go, fuming and steaming, not to mention limping, only to get home and find a letter on the mat addressed to me. Open it and what do you think is inside? The letter from the doctor.

Soooo thoughtful of the secretary to realise that she’s writing a letter about someone with a very swollen and painful knee, and wouldn’t it be a kindness to post it? Such a pity the doctor wasn’t equally thoughtful … as he’d told me to pick it up.

There, feel better for the rant!

More importantly my knee is also finally on the mend – I think the steroid injection, however painful it was at the time, has really done the trick.

Wheelchairs – the pros and cons

July 16, 2008 at 8:21 pm | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 1 Comment
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Well I jumped the big hurdle today – metaphorically of course as I can hardly walk, let alone hurdle – I went out and about in a wheelchair for the first time. I hope it’s also the last, but it’s another psychological barrier crossed anyway!

The cons that I was anticipating mostly didn’t happen – no adverse comments from anyone, not even the woman who looked at me a little oddly when she saw me get out of the chair and walk down some stairs while hubby pushed the chair down a nearby slope. (If he’d tried pushing me down it we’d all have ended up in a heap at the bottom!) I’m sure she was thinking, ‘What a fraud. She doesn’t need a chair. She can walk!’ but at least she didn’t say anything. Hubby bore up manfully under the strain of manhandling the manual wheelchair … and said he rather enjoyed having a chance to push me about as it’s usually the other way around. I can’t think what he means!

Comfort? Well, we were going round a ‘stately home’, Somerleyton in Suffolk, who kindly provide wheelchairs for those that need them – basic models for sure, but considerably more comfortable than trying to walk in the state I was in. Although it didn’t look ‘well sprung’ the chair did go over various large stones and things without jarring much.

The one con that I hadn’t foreseen, which shows considerable stupidity on my part I fear, is how restrictive it was. Even though I was lucky in that I could at least get up and walk down stairs etc. getting in and out of the thing was not easy, so my usual pottering about, taking closeup photos etc. just didn’t happen this time. It was fun getting photos from a slightly different eye-line than normal though! However, I also discovered that without telepathy it’s quite hard to communicate with the person pushing – not easy for him to hear me apart from anything else. So I’d say ‘ooh, can we stop here?’ and by the time he’d said, ‘Sorry? What?’ and I’d said, ‘I was just wondering if we could STOP here?’ we’d gone quite a way further down the path than I’d had in mind and the ‘photo-opportunity’ was missed.

Still, all in all a very positive experience (on my part anyway, although poor hubby is slightly exhausted this evening), and best of all … no one could see the size of my bum.

Steroid injection in the knee – I think I’m glad I had it!

July 15, 2008 at 7:34 pm | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | Leave a comment
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Well I went and saw the GP today – she rolled her eyes when I told her about yesterday’s phone conversation and commented that they used to be quite happy to see people and anyway what else was it going to be. ‘Funny you should say that,’ I said, ‘that’s what I said.’ I can only assume that with all the budgeting stuff that goes on now, the hospital would rather the GP was paying for the injection and they didn’t have to spend the money at their day unit.

But the good news was that my doc was able to do the injection at the surgery, and try to draw off some of the fluid as well.

The bad news was that she didn’t manage to draw off any fluid and it hurt like blazes. I shall have to remember, if I ever need one of these things again, to apologise in advance for any swearing, screaming, moaning or kicking that might ensue! Alright, kicking is a slight exaggeration and I think I just managed not to swear, but I’m really not someone who’s squeamish about injections and I normally pride myself on not being a total wimp! So doc and I had a mutual apologising session and then she did the actual injection.

She did warn me, and she was right, that it would probably feel marvelous for a couple of hours thanks to the local anaesthetic but that then it might well feel worse as the steroids wouldn’t kick in for perhaps 24 hours, and that I should rest it for at least that long. Perhaps fortunately for my knee, I was also starting to develop a corker of a migraine, so although I went back to work for a little while I soon went home and spent the day in bed.

Only time will tell, but so far although it’s hurting slightly I’ve already got a lot more movement in it than I did this morning, so it looks hopeful.

I’m glad I don’t have to queue for the GP tomorrow – but that’s about all!

July 14, 2008 at 7:30 pm | Posted in Me, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | Leave a comment
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I’ve had a frustrating morning – can hardly lift my left leg at the moment and both knees very painful, and so I phoned the rheumatology helpline at the hospital and explained the problem. My nurse actually answered the phone. Oh good, I thought. She didn’t remember me … but I can’t blame her for that as we’ve only met once. It’s still good because if someone else answers they say ‘Oh you need to speak to Jean and she’s in clinic…’ , so at least I jumped that hoop.

Told her the problem. ‘What do we normally do about your knees, Penguin?’ she says. Well that’s helpful.

‘Well since I only got a diagnosis in April and this hasn’t happened before, not a clue!’

‘Oh, well if it’s specific joints we usually inject them with steroids’ …lovely, ‘and local anesthetic’. Presumably to numb the pain from having the injection, rather than the pain I’ve already got. Oh joy!

Hmm, in my naivety I’d been anticipating more of a tea and sympathy approach followed by something like ‘try a support bandage’ or ‘have a hot bath’ … guess I have a lot to learn about RA!

The nurse continued, ‘But you need to see your GP first to confirm it’s to do with the arthritis. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t.’

‘I’d be bloody surprised if it wasn’t … what else is it going to be?!’

‘Well quite, but as I can’t see them we do need to get someone to have a look …’

Thinks – I can look, I have a brain too, and guess what, my knees are all swollen and I can lift the left one. But no, that’s not good enough.

‘Well it won’t be today, because if you don’t get in at 8.30am they won’t see you on the day,’ I says.

Oh well she says, full of NHS optimism, ‘Phone and see if they have a cancellation.’

They did – tomorrow. So I’ve taken that.

I suppose I can be glad about the fact I don’t have to queue up at 8.30 tomorrow morning to get an appointment, only to have to come back at 9.30 to have the appointment, considering how ‘interesting’ standing in line is at the moment – almost as much fun as going up stairs.

I didn’t dare ask how many weeks it would be before I got into the day unit even if the GP did confirm it – or how many weeks it would be for the GP to even write a referral letter.

Maybe I just need to burst in to tears at the GP tomorrow to get something done. Shouldn’t be hard the way I’m feeling.

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